Sunday, January 30, 2011

Michigan City Lighthouse

Michigan City Lighthouse ~ Indiana

Sitting On the Dock of the Bay

Seagull in Michigan City, Indiana

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Part of the Sanatorium, The Stamford Inn, in Stamford, Texas
The Stamford Inn is located in Stamford, Texas 45 miles north of Abilene, Texas. This small town inn has quite a history. It was constructed in 1900. In 1924 a fire destroyed most of the building. A man named, Ernest fell through the floor of the building landing on a water heater while trying to rescue some of the other people who perished in fire. A total of five people lost their lives in the blaze. The fire destroyed the building, and another was constructed on the site. Eventually, the building was turned into a sanatorium/nursing home. Today, the structure is abandoned and has been since the early 1980s. As teens, my brother and I spent many evenings exploring the old building. After being away from the area for over ten years, I was surprised to find the building was still standing. I am hoping to get permission to go in at my own risk and take more pictures.

Monday, January 24, 2011


Pancho is a resident at the Abilene Zoo. (My son helps take care of him.)

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Abilene Tower a.k.a. The Hotel Wooten

The Hotel Wooten
The Hotel Wooten was opened in 1930 after H.O. Wooten financed the completion of the hotel. Hotel Wooten is a historical landmark, that was recently renovated for a total of twelve million Dollars. The hotel was once known as the Abilene Tower Apartments, as it was when DJ and I lived there. The hotel embodies elegance and class. The hotel has 22 apartments available for rent. The ballroom in the hotel has been restored to is original opulence.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Last Sunrise

A cool morning breeze drifts across the water of the gulf, and the mid-September sun begins to glint on the horizon. Just a little peek of light shimmers across the water from eternity to a few feet below and in front of her. Her long legs dangle from the edge of the seawall, and she slowly kicks them back and forth as she did as a toddler strapped into her high chair.

The black and grey cubed rocks below form a barrier to break up incoming tides. Many are lined with jagged edges not yet softened by the decades of the ocean tide. A fall from this height would surely hurt and possibly break a bone or two but should not maim or kill. Though she is clumsy and scared of heights, her mind does not see the possible danger before her. Instead, she keeps dangling her feet, back and forth above the sharp rocks below.

She’s too excited to breathe in the salty air and to feel the spray of warm gulf waters as they break up on the rocks and shoot high in the air as tiny droplets that fall back down on her tanned skin to worry. Almost instantly, she feels the dampness on her skin and soon her clothing, slightly chilling her.

It is a glorious morning, but any moment, she must cross the boulevard to her father’s small apartment. Today, her things will be packed in the trunk of her small blue Accord. Her journey to the arid land she calls home must begin, and she must go back to where little is green, and the air is blistering; where brown, yellow, and burnt umber are the colors of nature, and where nature is brutal and harsh with spikes and thorns. But for now, she will sit on the peaceful wall and take in the sounds of the gulf.

Traffic is light, for the day has yet to begin. Tourists snuggle tightly in their beds waiting for the smells of bacon, sausage, and eggs to drift silently into their room and invade their nostrils. They can stay in their beds for all she cares. While they slumber, Galveston is peaceful and serene.

Far to the east, the sun slightly rises and an orange glow spreads across the horizon. The horizon is now a beautiful purple, pink, and orange. A faint orange light reaches across the water and touches her bare feet. A large hand touches her left shoulder and she responds, “Good morning,” as another pair of feet dangle next to hers.

“Beautiful isn’t it?” Her father asks.

No response is necessary because there is no beauty like the one that spreads before her, so she just smiles and nods. Fishermen begin dot the briny water parallel to the rocky shore and the sandy beach down further. Still, even further, she can just make out the pier jutting out from the concrete wall.

She moves her hands down on the edge of the concrete barrier and stretches her body forward to catch the spray on her face. The breeze whips around her body and tosses her long brown curls out behind her. Her head lowers, and she notices that the hairs on his pale white feet are as red as what little hair he has left on his head. She wonders why she never noticed that before; and soon realizes that all throughout her life, he seldom went without shoes even if he was just tottering through the house.

After patting it a couple of times, he puts his hand on hers and gently squeezes. Her heart warms, and no words pass between them, but she looks up over her left shoulder at him and smiles. He’s looking out across the ocean toward the sun and golden glowing clouds. She notices there are more lines at the edges of his eyes than the last time she sat with him watching the sunrise. His freckled skin glows in the light of the sun, just as the gulf waters glow purple, pink, and blue. The orange trail of the sun is now a deep red, and the sky shifts from a pale grey to azure. Sol rides the horizon for just a moment before climbing above it. Streaks of gold dance across the waves, and the gulls begin to soar above the earth. They dive back down again and again to capture a meal. In the distance, large cargo ships, tankers, cruise ships, sailboats, yachts, and shrimp boats power out of the bay, forming minuscule dots of varying shapes and sizes on the horizon.

Mist draws up the seawall and engulfs their legs as they sit silently waiting for the day to break the magical spell cast across the sleepy city. Clouds curl, stretch, and ball, as they float toward the mainland, while beams of gold reflect their outermost edges.

Her head drops, and she watches his legs hang in the mist. He’s been ill, but they do not speak of it. Instead, they take in the beauty around them and allow it to wash all of their worries away. They let their pain drift out with the tide and ride the ocean current far, far away. This moment, this morning, is the most perfect they have had in the longest time.

The pinks, oranges, reds, blues, violets, and golds begin to fade as the sun floats higher above the horizon, and the silence breaks with the sounds of engines and blaring horns. Voices of tourists crowd her ears and the smell of meats, coffees, and sweets fill the air. The mist below glides away tugging at the dew on her skin, and her feet dangle on the edge of the seawall. She looks over her left shoulder and smiles.

A warm morning breeze drifts across the cool water of the gulf, and the mid-April sun begins to glint on the horizon. Just a little peek of light shimmers across the water from eternity to a few feet below and in front of her. The sun reflects off the red highlights in her son’s dark brown hair. He will not hang his feet over the edge, so he folds them in his lap in front of him. “Beautiful isn’t it?” He asks.

“Yeah, it is,” she responds as she pats his hand and gently squeezes it. He lays his head on her shoulder when he sees a single tear escape her dark brown eyes and roll down her freckled cheek. They sit in silence as they watch the sun rise.

This is the last sunrise that my father and I shared before he passed away. Galveston, Texas

Monday, January 17, 2011

My Pets Will Sleep Anywhere

Killer is in the cat's bed, and the cat is in a box that is way too small for her.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Lake Kirby

I don't know why I spend so much time at Lake Kirby. I often find myself wandering out this way. I think it must be because I have fond memories of how Dad and I would take the boys to fish at the lake. Damien seldom fished, but Dyl would fish his little heart out. The fishing here is treacherous and a person needs to be prepared to re-rig their rod often because of the rocks and limbs under the water's surface.

Although I have these memories, they may not be the only reason I find myself wandering around out here. I know I feel closer to nature when I am out here. I am surrounded by plant growth, I can feel the air brush across my skin, and I can hear the water lap against the shore. Whatever the reason, I know coming out to Lake Kirby helps me keep my sanity.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Santa Anna

Damien, Dylan, and I were on the way to their orthodontist appointment in Brownwood when we saw this church off of the main road in Santa Anna. I told the boys that I wanted to photograph the church on the way home. We stopped to take pictures. I love the way the stained glass window seemed to be untouched by the elements while the rest of the building is weathered and decayed. I found the contrast interesting.

Also on the way home, we stopped to photograph the cactus growing out of the side of a cliff.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Chilling with the Family

I have decided that spending time with my family is the best ting that I can do with my time. I love chilling and shooting them as they do just about anything. Killer is always begging for something, Damien is always vegging out, and DJ is always the guinea pig. Dyl was hanging out with his friends tonight.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


I developed some old film and found these pictures from when we lived in Merkel. I took the pictures shortly after I got my professional camera. I think they came out well.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Winter's Sunset Too

A beautiful sunset in Haskell, Texas taken from Grandma's back yard.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Friday, January 7, 2011

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Monday, January 3, 2011

A Special Bond

I was lying on the bottom bunk asleep on a cold winter's night. The frigid air drifted around the crusty dry caulk barely holding in the French cut glass windowpanes. I lay there tucked safe and cuddled tightly under my thick blanket and quilt. From the other room, a scream escaped from the throat of my mother's cousin and jolted me awake. The next sound was a music box that my great-grandmother had given to my mother a few days prior. Just one verse repetitively played, "…sleeping in heavenly peace…" My seven-year-old mind assumed that music boxes were like vinyl records and could skip just the same. No other sounds broke through the chilly night air; so again, I closed my eyes only to be disturbed from my attempt to slumber once more. The old black rotary phone rang loudly. I listened as my mother answered, "Yes, this is her. Oh no! Oh my God! Yes...yes...I understand...yes, we will be there." She hung the phone up, and exhausted, I closed my eyes once more.

The next morning after I awoke, my mother called to me. When I approached her, she sobbed with tear-filled eyes and told me of what she had learned just the night before. "Your great-grandmother has died. We will be going to her wake so we can say good-bye to her."

I was in shock, stunned by what she had said. Images of sitting in my grandmother's lap as she told me stories of her life haunted me. I had just seen her and could not believe that what Mother had told me could be true. The tears filled my eyes as I felt the sense of loss in my saddened soul. My great-grandmother would be surely missed. With the matriarch of the family gone, a new era would begin. I would never see her again. Never again would I gaze into her beautiful black eyes as she told me stories of her hard, sad life. Never again would I hug her frail, tiny body and kiss her good-bye. Never again would my hand brush her soft, thin, dark skin. Never again would I tell her how much she meant to me, and I felt truly alone. There had been a special bond between the two of us every since my birth. As a babe, she had saved my life. Though I was far too young to remember the story myself, I knew it by heart.

My grandma was taking Great-Grandmother to visit her older daughter in Kermit on the way to New Mexico. Though she protested and put up a good fight, the plans had been made and the trip was inevitable. Grandmother told Grandma, "I cannot go. My new black haired baby girl needs me. She is not well."

Grandma had just returned from the doctor's office with my mother and me. The doctor had told them that I was just allergic to the milk, and he wasn't worried despite the two-pound weight loss since my birth.

Grandmother disagreed and protested. When no one listened and insisted the doctor's opinion was valid, Grandmother started quacking like a duck letting them know how she felt about the white man's medicines and doctors. "I never saw one of them in my life, and I am ninety-two years young. You don't see the white man living this long." Grandma just waved her off in response.

When Grandmother refused to pack, Grandma packed for her. However, Grandmother's stubbornness was infamous. She unpacked as Grandma packed. Grandma finally walked away and waited until Grandmother napped to pack the bags and load them into the trunk of her white Ford Fairlane. When Grandmother woke, Grandma appeased her by taking her first to see her tiny black haired "Great."

Grandmother held my tiny body in her arms and cried her tears on my face. If the spirits knew how much I was loved, they would hesitate to take me. My small gown was turned backwards, so the spirits, who did not care, couldn't see me. As Grandmother handed me back to my teenaged mother, she spoke, "Your baby is very ill, and her body is withering away. Do not listen to the doctor you see because he does not listen, and he does not have the healing touch. Take your girl to one with our blood. Take her to one you can trust."

Unwillingly, Grandmother entered the Fairlane and was whisked away to the older daughter's. Minutes before arriving to her destination, Grandmother woke in a start. "Pull over, daughter! Find me a payphone. If Granddaughter does not take my great now, the spirits will take her away."

Grandma knew enough to trust Grandmother's premonitions, which never should be taken lightly. She found a gas station with a payphone and dialed Mother's number for Grandmother. Though Mother was skeptical, Grandmother gave her a start. The hairs stood up on her arm as chills rushed through her body. She could feel that Grandmother was right. Mother tried to rouse me from my sleep, but my body limply flailed, as I could not muster the strength to rhythmically jerk my arms to my sides. My cry was but a squeak no louder than a mouse, and no tears rolled from my tiny black eyes. My skin puckered and wrinkled with each touch, and had paled to an ashen grey from the pale red brown since birth. I was fading fast.

The seventeen-year-old mother of two wrapped my tiny body in the quilt that was once hers and took me to the next town over. The black haired dark skinned doctor in the Stamford Memorial emergency room immediately performed a cut down procedure on the inside of my left ankle for an IV before he rushed me to a surgeon in Abilene. Once an upper gastro-intestinal x-ray was performed, it was determined that I had pyloric stenosis, a birth defect passed from my father to me, and before me, a birth defect that only affects male infants. Once the surgery was successful, the surgeon told Mother the doctor in Stamford saved my life. He said that waiting just an hour longer would have certainly meant death. What he didn't know was that Mother could not hear my cries as I tried to wail, and had it not been for the phone call from Grandmother, she would have never woke up in time to rush me to the next town.

At the funeral, I grew angry toward my sister and brother due to their behavior. I felt I was the only child that grasped the gravity of the situation, and it weighed heavily on my tiny shoulders. My siblings laughed and played, as I sat there crying. Now as an adult, I understand that my brother was too young to realize what was going on, as was my sister. Though she was older than me, she was only eight. I was the child Grandmother called "an old soul," and I was the only child she rooted our Creek heritage deeply in. I was the one who cried on the trail that was only a distant memory to all but her. I was the one that felt the pain of her being severed from her own mother's arms and never returned. I was the one who knew how the fleeting memories and stripping of her Creek name left Grandmother wandering throughout her lifetime searching for her own identity. I was the one who carried the burden alone, and I was too young to hold the weight on my own.

Over the next several months, the loss of my great-grandmother weighed heavy on my heart. Life at home was hellacious; my body constantly riddled with bruises. My parents' arguments grew more and more frequent. My heart, too, was bruised and sank down deeper with every thought of my great-grandmother. I truly missed her and wanted to see her once again. Once again, I wanted to be in her arms as she rocked in her hand woven chair. I wanted to hear her sing the songs her mother once sang to her. I craved the sound of the forbidden Creek verses that I could not understand. I longed for the whispering of secrets in my ear. Sometimes, when I crawled up the branches of the old mulberry tree she planted so long ago, I swore I heard her whispering her secrets on the sweet breeze rustling through the leaves. Once again, I wanted to be with her.

My family and I went to Possum Kingdom Lake for a day in the summer sun. The heat beat down on the earth, but the water was cool and inviting. My mother warned us to stay close to shore, for there had been a drought and the lake was low. Since Possum Kingdom is overrun with underwater caverns, Mother told us, "If the water starts to get cold, turn around and come back. Cold water means deep water."

We played close to the shore, filling each other's bathing suits with mud. I am at a loss as to what triggered it, but I suddenly I began to think of my great-grandmother. My mother and sister continued to play, but I turned my back to my family and headed away from the beach. The water grew colder with each small step. I began to take one more step, and I felt there was no ground in front of me. I knew I had reached the drop off. I turned around and looked at my family one last time. They were still playing, all but my father. He lay on the beach drinking a Coors. The snow-white styrofoam cooler sat next to him in the sand. Daddy couldn't swim.

I turned back around and took that final step. My body sank like lead down to the bottom. I did not fight to get back to the top. I let out my breath and allowed my lungs to fill with water. The pain was immense. My chest tightened as I gulped the water in. As the sour water replaced air, bubbles floated to the surface of the lake. The bursting blood vessels pinpricked throughout my body and behind my eyes. I felt someone grab for me and try to pull me back up. It was my mother, who I tried to fight off. I battled, kicked, scratched, and bit until all turned black. Before me, I saw my great-grandmother. I reached out for her hand, and she grabbed hold as I told her, "I want to be with you. Let me stay here."

Grandmother replied, "I cannot let you come with me. You have to go back. It is not your time to go."

I awoke coughing the water from my lungs. I opened my eyes as the sun peered into them blinding me. The hot sand burned my back and cut tiny gouges in my skin. I knew I was alive with each painful retch of water from my lungs. I knew I was alive when I looked around and saw my family all around me. I knew I was alive because heaven could never hurt like this. Either I was alive, or I had gone to hell.

I don't know to this day whether I actually saw her or if my subconscious was telling me to fight. My last thought before blackout was of her. Could my subconscious have projected my need to fight in her form? No one may ever know. I like to think it was Grandmother, and she is my guardian angel. From that moment on, I have always felt that she is here with me.


Saturday, January 1, 2011

2010 Reading List

  1. Andersen’s Fairy Tales – Hans Christian Andersen
  2. “Antigone” – Sophocles
  3. “Arachnaphobia” – Catherine Brophy
  4. Arch Enemy – Frank Beddor
  5. Ask and Tell: Self-Advocacy and Disclosure for People on the Autism Spectrum – Ruth Elaine Joyner Hane, Kassiane Sibley, Stephen M. Shore, Roger N. Meyer, Phil Schwarz, Liane Holliday Willey
  6. Autism's False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure – Paul A. Offit
  7. Autistic Like Me – Jennifer Elder
  8. Beastly – Alex Flinn
  9. Beyond the Wall: Personal Experiences with Autism and Asperger Syndrome, Second Edition – Stephen M. Shore
  10. Black Pearls: A Faerie Strand – Louise Hawes
  11. Boneshaker – Cherie Priest
  12. Breaking Dawn – Stephanie Meyer
  13. “The Bride” – M.P. Shiel
  14. “The Cedar Closet” – Patrick Lafcadio Hearn
  15. Dark Carnival – James A. Moore
  16. Daughters of the Witching Hill – Mary Sharratt
  17. The Devil’s Rose – Brom
  18. Dracula – Bram Stoker
  19. Eats, Shoots and Leaves – Lynne Truss
  20. Eclipse – Stephenie Meyers
  21. Emergence: Labeled Autistic – Temple Grandin
  22. “Encounter at Night” – Mary Frances McHugh
  23. Fathom – Cherie Priest
  24. The Finale – Calvin Miller
  25. “Five Pounds of Flesh” – J.M. Synge
  26. “Fly Away Finger, Fly Away Thumb” – Brian Moore
  27. “Footsteps In the Lobby” – Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
  28. Gathering Blue – Lois Lowry
  29. Ghost Stories of California – Barbara Smith
  30. Green Witch – Alice Hoffman
  31. “A House Possessed” – Sax Rohmer
  32. Indigo – Alice Hoffman
  33. The Last Battle – C.S. Lewis
  34. “Last Rites” – Neil Jordan
  35. Little Vampire Women – Alcott & Messina
  36. Living Dead Girl – Elizabeth Scott
  37. The Looking Glass Wars – Frank Beddor
  38. Love Medicine – Louise Erdrich
  39. “The Man from Shorrox” – Bram Stoker
  40. Married With Zombies – Jesse Peterson
  41. The Messenger – Lois Lowry
  42. “The Miraculous Revenge” – George Bernard Shaw
  43. New Moon – Stephenie Meyer
  44. Night – Elie Wiesel
  45. On Writing – Stephen King
  46. Pride And Prejudice And Zombies – Jane Austen & Seth Grahame Smith
  47. Pride And Prejudice And Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls – Jane Austen & Steve Hockensmith
  48. Ravens – George Dawes Green
  49. Rip Van Winkle – Washington Irving
  50. Seeing Redd – Frank Beddor
  51. The Silver Chair – C.S. Lewis
  52. The Singer – Calvin Miller
  53. The Song – Calvin Miller
  54. A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
  55. To Serve and Submit – Susan Wright
  56. Vampire Stories – Richard Dalby
  57. The Way I See It – Temple Grandin
  58. “Will” – Vincent O’Sullivan
  59. Witch – Candace Savage
  60. A Wizard Alone – Diane Duane
  61. World War Z – Max Brooks